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OT: SLU Drops SAT/ACT Requirement

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Honestly, I feel like this really will help the hardest workers in high school...because I wasn’t one of them. I think I graduated with a 3.3 in high school,  but I did the bare minimum to get that GPA. I was also a really good test taker. I took the ACT, once, the summer before my senior year, knew ahead of time that my score was good enough to get into the schools I wanted to go to (SLU) and did only enough work to keep my parents off my back my entire senior year. But I had friends who worked their asses off for 4 years (and really weren’t bad test takers), but buckled under the pressure of knowing a single standardized test would determine whether they got to go to their dream school. That’s a helluva a lot of pressure for a teenager. Yeah, they can take the test again, but if you bombed it the first time, the pressure goes up exponentially every time you take it again. The fact that 1 test can determine so much of a person’s future just seems silly to me. And I’m someone who benefitted from it.

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This will make it easier for colleges to push legacy admissions in.

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26 minutes ago, SLU_Lax said:

I think it is closer to the opposite.  It puts more weight on your actual performance (i.e. grades in high school).  People who test well and f off in high school can often find schools that will take them based on ACT/SAT scores.

Instead this says that for whatever reason if someone does not test well, but has shown good grades, good extracurriculars, and otherwise shows to be a good student that they can now more easily be accepted to SLU.  ACT/SAT certainly is not a perfect predictor of collegiate academic performance and post-graduate success.  Its predictive ability is lessened further when you isolate the variance due to socioeconomic factors.

Out of reactions but +1M

It has always bothered me that a student could dedicate 4 years of their life to developing an impressive work ethic and obtaining excellent grades just to see their future plans hijacked because of one day of standardized testing.

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18 minutes ago, JMM28 said:

Trust me, SLU has been letting the "i screwed around in high school but got a good test score" brigade in since at least 2002. I am living proof.

Me too!!!

giphy.gif

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28 minutes ago, billiken_roy said:

i would think you need to ace both to get in a great school.   i know my kids did.  

Sounds like you only want the naturally gifted?

Ill take the hard worker who overachieves all day long.

 

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This is huge, and to be honest, long overdue. In reality, our education system has been bogged down over the past number of decades by teaching strictly to the test. Teachers don't like it. Students don't like it. For-profit testing companies love it. We need a return to the classical education of years past, where teachers could teach their students important life skills, not just standardized test taking strategies. 

Standardized tests have no true relationship to eventual future success. Grit, resilience in challenging times, motivation level, time balancing skills, etc. are all much better predictors of future success than standardized test scores. Though we can debate how exactly those might be measured.

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/09/the-failing-grade-for-tests/498407/

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25 minutes ago, brianstl said:

This will make it easier for colleges to push legacy admissions in.

I'm not sure how it can get much easier. When have the rules applied to deep-pocketed legacies?

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2 minutes ago, Spoon-Balls said:

This is huge, and to be honest, long overdue. In reality, our education system has been bogged down over the past number of decades by teaching strictly to the test. Teachers don't like it. Students don't like it. For-profit testing companies love it. We need a return to the classical education of years past, where teachers could teach their students important life skills, not just standardized test taking strategies. 

Standardized tests have no true relationship to eventual future success. Grit, resilience in challenging times, motivation level, time balancing skills, etc. are all much better predictors of future success than standardized test scores. 

A few years back I had to do some observation of a public grade school in South City.

I observed 4th-8th grade classes.  I spent about 20 days there off and on. 
All these kids did for a semester was prep for MAP testing. It was awful. They took practice test after practice test. Then reviewed their answers. They spent hours studying test taking strategies. All because the school needed to hit certain numbers to receive more funding.

With the amount of time these kids spent studying for the MAP testing I bet they did OK. 
Ask them who fought in WWII or how to write an essay and they would have no idea.

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The problem with this trend is that it doesn't take into account the difficulty of the high school.  Grade inflation at high schools is huge problem.  There are some high schools were half of the graduating class has a 4.0.  This occurs most often at less competitive schools.  The ACT was the great identifier of whether you actually learned something in high school or just got a 4.0 because your high school is excessively easy.

Kids who go to high schools that challenge the students might get a 3.7, but learned much more than a kid who got a 4.0 at a much lesser school.  The kid with the 3.7 is much smarter and a much harder worker, but now looks like less of a candidate to a school only looking at GPA.  Now, high schools will be under more pressure to make classes easier and kids will be under more pressure to take easier classes in high school since the all-mighty 4.0 is the holy grail compared to actually being a smarter kid.

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1 hour ago, SLU_Lax said:

I think it is closer to the opposite.  It puts more weight on your actual performance (i.e. grades in high school).  People who test well and f off in high school can often find schools that will take them based on ACT/SAT scores.

Instead this says that for whatever reason if someone does not test well, but has shown good grades, good extracurriculars, and otherwise shows to be a good student that they can now more easily be accepted to SLU.  ACT/SAT certainly is not a perfect predictor of collegiate academic performance and post-graduate success.  Its predictive ability is lessened further when you isolate the variance due to socioeconomic factors.

This is what has been overlooked in admissions for far too long. The question shouldn't be just "who is the most qualified based on grades test scores right now?" but "who has the profile of a student most likely to succeed in the long term?"

Cincinnati made the same announcement a couple weeks ago, that they were dropping the requirement from admissions. I have a friend who is a stats professor there. He's been working on a long-term research project about the LSAT as a predictor of bar exam success. In short, it is not a strong indicator.

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I think the test has changed, but the historical verbal section of the SAT was one of the most absurdly biased and irrelevant tests created. A student's success on it was largely determine by whether they studied Latin roots extensively and/or came from a household that spoke the American version of "Old English." Poor kids had zero chance to get a decent score on it, and it had nothing to due with their intelligence or academic capacity. 

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4 minutes ago, cgeldmacher said:

The problem with this trend is that it doesn't take into account the difficulty of the high school.  Grade inflation at high schools is huge problem.  There are some high schools were half of the graduating class has a 4.0.  This occurs most often at less competitive schools.  The ACT was the great identifier of whether you actually learned something in high school or just got a 4.0 because your high school is excessively easy.

Kids who go to high schools that challenge the students might get a 3.7, but learned much more than a kid who got a 4.0 at a much lesser school.  The kid with the 3.7 is much smarter and a much harder worker, but now looks like less of a candidate to a school only looking at GPA.  Now, high schools will be under more pressure to make classes easier and kids will be under more pressure to take easier classes in high school since the all-mighty 4.0 is the holy grail compared to actually being a smarter kid.

Others have pointed out that the first point might not be true, and even if there's a correlation, it's harder to show causation. Additionally, it doesn't necessarily show which students will thrive the most in college.

I also have a hard time believing college admissions teams can't recognize which kids are taking easy classes, going to less competitive schools, etc. SLU's admissions people know every HS in the Midwest well, and they have regional reps who have a pretty good read on the landscape in other areas of the U.S. They're not going to be tricked by a school dumbing down. Furthermore, can you imagine any HS succeeding with parents by being like "Yeah, we're going to take it easy on the kids now to make them look smarter even though they're learning less"? Even at the worst schools, that's not gonna fly.

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One other point that hasn't been mentioned yet: the international student population is going to be basically zero at every U.S. college in the near future. That's about 6% of SLU's student body from what I can find. Plus, you're going to have other kids going to less expensive schools, staying closer to home, or whatever.

If you're losing your international students - who don't exactly bring the ACT/SAT stats up - along with other students who will have financial or other reasons for not coming to SLU in the next couple years, you still need to fill those spots. This allows the admissions people to take a harder look at students who might have a stronger GPA or essay or activities or all-around profile and offer admission to some solid kids who might not have gotten in before.

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I’m glad less emphasis is being placed nationally on these for-profit tests. The ACT and SAT prove you can train yourself for pattern recognition, and aren’t a great barometer for academic success. Props to SLU for getting on the train. 

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13 minutes ago, cgeldmacher said:

The problem with this trend is that it doesn't take into account the difficulty of the high school.  Grade inflation at high schools is huge problem.  There are some high schools were half of the graduating class has a 4.0.  This occurs most often at less competitive schools.  The ACT was the great identifier of whether you actually learned something in high school or just got a 4.0 because your high school is excessively easy.

Kids who go to high schools that challenge the students might get a 3.7, but learned much more than a kid who got a 4.0 at a much lesser school.  The kid with the 3.7 is much smarter and a much harder worker, but now looks like less of a candidate to a school only looking at GPA.  Now, high schools will be under more pressure to make classes easier and kids will be under more pressure to take easier classes in high school since the all-mighty 4.0 is the holy grail compared to actually being a smarter kid.

This is a really good point and a big concern.  It is up to SLU to recognize schools that do this or that are sending kids that are not prepared and to adjust accordingly.  It also means it is more important to find other factors than only GPA to get well-rounded students who will achieve at high levels.  SLU is lessening the weight on one factor used to evaluate students and they will need to have a plan to ensure the new method is more effective.

Now I want to emphasize that ACT/SAT really is not as strong an indicator of success as the whole business operation built around it would want you to believe. 

My 1-person example is a friend in college that was a high achiever at Purdue.  He could not get into U of I (despite living in Champaign) because of his test scores.  He did so well his freshman year, he got accepted to U of I on a full-ride after his freshman year.  He graduated in ChemE from Illinois and got paid a high yearly stipend plus free room and board to do his grad school at Stanford.  The ACT/SAT was a terrible predictor of his success.

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Just now, SLU_Lax said:

This is a really good point and a big concern.  It is up to SLU to recognize schools that do this or that are sending kids that are not prepared and to adjust accordingly.  It also means it is more important to find other factors than only GPA to get well-rounded students who will achieve at high levels.  SLU is lessening the weight on one factor used to evaluate students and they will need to have a plan to ensure the new method is more effective.

Now I want to emphasize that ACT/SAT really is not as strong an indicator of success as the whole business operation built around it would want you to believe. 

My 1-person example is a friend in college that was a high achiever at Purdue.  He could not get into U of I (despite living in Champaign) because of his test scores.  He did so well his freshman year, he got accepted to U of I on a full-ride after his freshman year.  He graduated in ChemE from Illinois and got paid a high yearly stipend plus free room and board to do his grad school at Stanford.  The ACT/SAT was a terrible predictor of his success.

Who said that the schools won't have the ability to assess the relative difficulty and academic strength of the individual high schools or the student's specific classes? Is that part of the admissions department's job?

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The ACT/SAT is one of the biggest institutional oppressors in the country today. This is a good change. 

FWIW, I believe standardized tests serve a purpose, but the structure (costs, prep, frequency, etc.) of the ACT/SAT is a major problem. 

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1 minute ago, BilliesBy40 said:

The ACT/SAT is one of the biggest institutional oppressors in the country today. This is a good change. 

FWIW, I believe standardized tests serve a purpose, but the structure (costs, prep, frequency, etc.) of the ACT/SAT is a major problem. 

It’s pretty simple. The companies that design and administer these tests exist to make a profit. It is advantageous to the companies, not modern universities, for the current system to go on. There are many ways to determine the quality of incoming students in today’s world, and any school with admissions based on a standardized test number alone isn’t doing their job. 

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Again, the testing requirement has been dropped.  Kids from good high schools with 3.3 GPAs will still take it to prove they are outliers.  

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36 minutes ago, davidnark said:

I think the test has changed, but the historical verbal section of the SAT was one of the most absurdly biased and irrelevant tests created. A student's success on it was largely determine by whether they studied Latin roots extensively and/or came from a household that spoke the American version of "Old English." Poor kids had zero chance to get a decent score on it, and it had nothing to due with their intelligence or academic capacity. 

On this point, I am a bad test taker.  So the summer before I took the GRE, I studied word roots (not words) on the bus to and from work every day.  The GRE was also computer adaptive, meaning you get harder questions if you get early questions right.  I then spent almost half of my time on the first third of questions to put myself into a higher score tier that I could not fall out of. I outscored on the verbal portion a friend is now an English professor (boy was she upset).  However - and I am not an expert - the point of this story is that these tests can be very much gamed, particularly with (expensive) guidance.  I also took a Kaplan class to help me prep.

That said, I am not 100% sure that there should not be some sort of standard test for colleges to use in admissions, but their limitations need to be recognized.

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34 minutes ago, Pistol said:

Others have pointed out that the first point might not be true, and even if there's a correlation, it's harder to show causation. Additionally, it doesn't necessarily show which students will thrive the most in college.

I also have a hard time believing college admissions teams can't recognize which kids are taking easy classes, going to less competitive schools, etc. SLU's admissions people know every HS in the Midwest well, and they have regional reps who have a pretty good read on the landscape in other areas of the U.S. They're not going to be tricked by a school dumbing down. Furthermore, can you imagine any HS succeeding with parents by being like "Yeah, we're going to take it easy on the kids now to make them look smarter even though they're learning less"? Even at the worst schools, that's not gonna fly.

First, schools get thousands of submissions and often have less than ten people sifting through the applications.  So, yes, it is difficult.  I have spoken with people that have been in the college admissions process.  There simply isn't enough time in the day to formulate an accurate idea of which kids' 4.0 GPAs are legit and which kids' 3.6 are better than the 4.0s.

As far as the easy classes vs. harder classes in high school, no school is going to outright say we're making classes easier, just like no high schools set out on a mission to have half their class have 4.0.  It just gradually happens that way given the landscape.

I presently have a high school junior who is going to a very competitive jesuit high school.  He took AP Physics this year.  This might be the hardest course offered in St. Louis.  He busted his ass to get a B the first semester.  He is probably going to get a C+ this semester.  I was concerned before he signed up for the class that this might happen.  He's a smart kid, but the class is famously difficult.  If he had taken an easier class, he probably would have maintained his 4.0.  Now, he'll end up showing colleges a 3.8.  If I had known that all schools were going to toss out the ACT, I would have insisted that he take an easier class and maintain his 4.0.  He's a very smart kid who now is going to look less impressive to colleges than some kid at another school who put much less work in and is not nearly as intelligent as him, but got a 4.0 because their at a school that hands them out like locker assignments.

So, that is exactly how it happens.  Kids and their parents will make that decision all over the country.  And, thus, the dumbing down continues.

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For those that are giving examples of people who are bad test takers proving the system wrong, I agree with what you are saying also.  There should be consideration given to a kid who is an outstanding candidate, but tests poorly.  However, if you take away the ACT as a consideration, you are taking away the consideration for kids who show their intelligence on these tests.

My point is that ACT has never been the only variable considered by colleges.  There have always been kids getting in despite poor ACT scores.  If you eliminate the ACT completely from consideration, though, you take away a big tool that can be used.

Here's an example of what I mean.  Suppose that you have a very smart, very great kid who just happens to not be very athletic.  He also is not the most socially engaging kid.  He doesn't do well in interviews, but is very smart and would do exceedingly well in college.  In the past, that kid's high ACT score would be an indication to colleges that even though he wasn't on any sports teams and even though he didn't write the best essay or do well in the interview, he was still a great candidate.

Now, this kids doesn't have that metric to show school.  Instead, another kid that wouldn't be nearly as good of a college student shows colleges his 4.0 (not really earned) and that he lettered in 3 sports.  Also, he's a good bullshitter, so he did well in an interview that the school requires.  Now, this kid is looked at more highly since all colleges have to look at now are GPAs and extra-curriculars.

The ACT is valuable as a, just one, consideration for colleges.  The fact that it is now not being considered is just not a good thing.

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